Power Play

What a film about a poor Gansu farmer says of China’s quest for soft power

Return To Dust fell foul of censors ahead of the party congress despite popularity at home and critical acclaim abroad.

The Chinese film Return To Dust tells the story of how Ma and Cao grow to love each other as they build their own home and eke out a living. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MAPPEALTV/YOUTUBE
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BEIJING - Ma Youtie is a dirt-poor farmer living in China’s Gansu province.

When viewers first meet him, he lives in a shed owned by his brother, owns little more than an old donkey, and is looked down upon for being the poorest in his village. His family pushes him into a union with a disabled woman, Cao Guiying, who is a fellow outcast in the village. To their families it is a marriage of convenience, so that they can be rid of their respective burdens.

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